With the 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens, Sigma injects another round of excitement into the Global Vision Art series. When the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens is too wide and the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens is too long, the Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens will be found just right. The 28mm version may also be found just right because of its optical superiority, the sharper option, and that reason alone is going to bring this lens plenty of attention.
Announced on the same day, sharing many similarities and being simultaneously reviewed with this lens is the Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens. Both of these lenses are relatively large and heavy for their class, but most of us are willing to overlook that attribute to gain the superior optical designs built into these lenses.
As with the rest of the Sigma Art lenses, the aesthetics and build quality of the 28mm f/1.4 Art lens will also impress. The 28mm focal length is very useful with strong general-purpose utility. This is not a cheap lens, but from a relative perspective, especially considering the near-best-in-class image quality, it is not high either. Autofocus performance? Read on.
What are the uses for a 28mm lens? That is an important question that you should be asking. With a prime lens, you get one focal length and your lens selection should begin with the focal length. Having the angle of view that best suits the requirements of the subject is of paramount importance.
As with the 40mm f/1.4 Art lens, the image quality this lens delivers will cause you to attempt to make its focal length work for even fringe purposes. Fortunately, again like the 40mm option, this focal length has great general-purpose utility.
While 28mm seems very similar to 24mm and 35mm, there is a noticeable difference between these focal lengths and some photographers need the 28mm option, either in lieu of or in addition to one or both of the alternatives. The angle of view difference between 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm is illustrated below.
Obviously, 28mm frames modestly tighter than 24mm and a bit wider than 35mm. Though obviously different, the middle option mostly combines the uses of the other two and many times a 28mm lens is ideal for general-purpose use.
Photojournalism is a great use of the 28mm focal length. Portrait and wedding photographers will love the 28mm focal length for full body and small group portraits. Any focal length can be great for landscape photography, but the 28mm option is a frequently used one.
Sports photographers able to get close to their subjects (such as basketball shot from over or under the net) or wanting to capture a wider/environmental view of their events will appreciate this focal length. A 28mm lens is great for capturing indoor events.
Want a walk-around lens? I've enjoyed carrying this lens around on the street, simply looking for subjects that catch my eye.
The 28mm focal length paired with a wide aperture is especially appealing for creative photography and also night sky photography.
As usual, I've only scratched the surface of the list of uses here.
APS-C sensor format cameras utilize a smaller portion of the image circle and that means a scene is framed more tightly, with 1.5x or 1.6x being the angle of view multiplier for Canon, Nikon and Sony's lineup. A 28mm lens behind one of these cameras results in a 42mm or 44.8mm full frame angle of view equivalent. The uses for these angles of view do not vary greatly from the native 28mm full frame angle of view, but more working space is required for the same subject framing. The narrower angle of view encourages a more-pleasing portrait perspective and/or tighter portrait framing.
When you buy a prime lens instead of a zoom, you expect at least one strong advantage to offset the loss of zoom range versatility. Common advantages include smaller size, lighter weight, lower price, better image quality, and/or a wider aperture. This prime lens does not check the first three boxes, but it definitely covers the last two. I'll discuss image quality in the next section, but with only a few exceptions, the f/1.4 max aperture made available by this lens is as wide as DSLR and MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera) lenses get and no autofocus lens wider than 50mm exceeds the 28 Art's maximum aperture.
The wider the aperture, the more light is able to reach the imaging sensor. Allowing more light to reach the sensor permits freezing action, handholding the camera in lower light levels and/or use of a lower (less noisy) ISO setting. It seems that there is always enough light for this lens to capture a sharp image.
Increasing the aperture opening also permits a stronger, better subject-isolating background blur (at equivalent focal lengths). The shallow f/1.4 depth of field must of course be acceptable to you in these circumstances, but shallow depth of field is a highly-desired lens capability, excellent for making the subject pop from a blurred background. Longer focal length lenses are better at creating a strong background blur, but this one can get the job done if the subject is close enough as illustrated in the maximum blur example below.
Those looking for a prime lens often already have a general-purpose zoom lens in their kits and 28mm is typically covered by that lens. Compare the background blur of your lens at its maximum-available aperture at 28mm.
Especially if your lens opens to only f/4 or similar at 28mm, the difference between it and f/1.4 is quite noticeable.
An f/1.4 aperture enables the higher precision AF capabilities (most often the center AF point) in all cameras supporting this feature and f/1.4 presents a bright DSLR viewfinder image. This wide aperture is especially valuable after the sun sets, in the shade and when shooting indoors, including indoors using only ambient window light.
Note that, especially under full sun conditions, even a 1/8000 shutter speed will often be not fast enough to avoid blown highlights in f/1.4 images (use a neutral density filter to avoid this problem).
A useful focal length and wide aperture are great to have, but if the lens does not produce high-enough quality images at that aperture, that wide aperture is of less value. While few of us buy lenses to shoot test charts with, these charts are quite revealing of the performance of a lens. The black and white chart details quickly reveal any flaws present.
Test chart captures from the 28 f/1.4 Art lens show us that in the center through full frame periphery of the image circle, this lens performs very well at f/1.4 and, especially with contrast improving, noticeably better only 1/3 stop down at f/1.6. This lens' f/2 results are really impressive and the f/2.8 results are awesome. This lens is ultra-high-resolution-ready.
In addition to our standard lab tests, I like to share some real-world examples. The images below are 100% resolution crops from images captured in RAW format using a Canon EOS 5Ds R. The images were processed in Canon's Digital Photo Professional using the Standard Picture Style with sharpness set to "1" (Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens). These examples are from the center of the frame.
Viewed on their own, the f/1.4 results are very good and, with a small amount of contrast and sharpening added, they are easily useable. Because the f/2 results are so impressive, they appear considerably better than the f/1.4 results, making the wide-open results appear not as good as they really are. The f/2.8 results are simply stunning.
Focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration), is not an issue with this lens.
Here is a look at the extreme bottom-left corner image quality (the subject was manually focused in the corner).
The wide-open corners are a touch soft, but they accept sharpness and contrast adjustments well. Extreme corner sharpness improves through f/4 where the results are looking quite impressive.
Does corner sharpness matter? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Landscape photography is one photographic discipline this lens is suited for that has frequent scenarios requiring sharp corners. However, those scenarios usually require apertures narrower than f/4. When shooting at the widest apertures, depth of field is often shallow and the plane of sharp focus less-frequently includes a corner, making corner sharpness less important. I always prefer my lenses to be razor sharp in the corners, in case I need that feature, but each of us must consider our own applications to answer this paragraph's initial question.
When used on a camera that utilizes a lens' entire image circle, peripheral shading can be expected at the widest aperture settings. Wide angle, ultra-wide aperture lenses tend to show strong peripheral shading wide-open and the about-3.5-stops of shading in the 28 f/1.4 Art's corners is relatively strong, but not unexpectedly so. Stopping down one stop reduces the shading by about 50% to just over 1.5-stops. At f/2.8, the shading drops just under the often-visible 1-stop mark to about 0.8-stops. Shading stops clearing at f/4 with about 0.6-stops remaining in the corners throughout the balance of the aperture range.
Vignetting can be corrected during post processing with increased noise in the brightened areas being the penalty. Vignetting can also be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame.
The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths exists.
While lateral CA is usually easily corrected with software (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide, it is of course better to not have it in the first place. Any color misalignment present can easily be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a worst-case example, a 100% crop from the extreme top left corner of an ultra-high-resolution 5Ds R frame.
There should be only black and white colors in these images and the additional colors are showing lateral CA. This lens has a moderate amount of lateral CA, especially so for a prime lens.
A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or more simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while the spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.
In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.
In the example above, the fringing colors in out of focus areas of the image with specular highlights in the foreground showing purple and in the background showing green indicate that perfection has not been achieved, but these results are not bad for an f/1.4 max aperture lens. Stopping down improves the results in this regard.
Flare is caused by bright light reflecting off of the surfaces of lens elements, resulting in reduced contrast and interesting artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare in an image is variable and depends on the position and nature of the light source (or sources) as well as on the selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades and quality of the lens elements and their coatings. Most lenses show the least amount of flare effects in our sun-in-the-corner tests at their wide-open apertures and this one performs extremely well at f/1.4. Flare always increases as the aperture narrows and by f/16, this lens is showing a moderate amount of flaring, an amount normal for this lens class.
There are two lens aberrations that are particularly evident when shooting images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point, instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma), or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). Lateral CA is an additional aberration apparent in the corners.
The image below is a 100% crop taken from the extreme top-left corner of an EOS 5Ds R frame.
According to this lens, the flying saucers are coming. While these results do not appear stellar, they are not unusual for lenses in this class.
The 28 f/1.4 Art has a slight amount of barrel distortion that is primarily noticeable as the corners being pinched slightly toward center frame. If you look carefully at the unforgiving horizontal lines running along the bottom of the frame in the image below, you will notice them curving upward at the sides.
A 28mm lens is not going to create the world's strongest background blur, but with an ultra-wide f/1.4 aperture, this lens competes with the best in its class. Not as easily discerned is bokeh, referring to the quality of that blur. Here are some examples of out-of-focus specular highlights.
Stopped down 5 stops to f/8, the aperture blades are strongly influencing the bokeh and these results appear OK with the centers of these effects being not completely smooth.
The "CE" results reference the cat's eye bokeh effect, a form of mechanical vignetting, seen in the corners, the top-left in these examples. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the corner of the frame, the shape is not round and that is the shape seen here. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced and the mechanical vignetting absolves with the shapes becoming round.
As the aperture gets narrower, point light sources take on a starburst effect and, in my experience, the wider the max aperture of the lens, the stronger the star effect a lens can produce.
When stopped down, this lens' 9-blade aperture produces beautiful 18-point stars from point light sources.
Like its sibling 40 f/1.4 Art, this lens has a very interesting lens-element-dense design.
Though not perfect, with mostly aberrations showing in the image circle periphery, the Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens is a very optically-impressive lens. It competes very strongly against the sharpest 28mm lenses available.
To date, all Art lenses feature Sigma's premium HSM (Hypersonic Motor) AF system.
The 28 Art's AF system has decent speed with the amount of distance change being a significant factor in the experienced AF lock time. Focus at minimum focus distance and then at infinity and you will likely consider the speed rather slow as you wait for the subject to come into focus. Focus on one subject and then on a nearby subject and the lock time will seem very fast. As usual, focusing speeds are reduced in low light and some minor autofocus distance adjustments are often made after the initial focus acquisition, increasing the overall AF lock times of even shorter distance adjustments.
This lens focuses very quietly with only a quiet shuffling ("shhhh") along with sometimes clicks being heard (if focusing in a quiet environment). Focusing is internal and FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported (unless intentionally disabled using the Sigma Dock).
With an ultra-wide aperture lens being able to produce very shallow depth of field at close distances, the AF system's accuracy takes on increased importance – far more importance than autofocus speed to most of us. A mis-focused image heads straight to the trash can most of the time, AF accuracy performance testing is always a high priority for me and experience has taught me to be especially sensitive to third party lens performance in this regard. While some of Sigma's recent lenses have been turning in good very AF accuracy for me, to put it bluntly, this one has not. Before going any further, I want to note that sensor-based AF systems, including DSLR live view and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, will focus this lens very accurately. The conventional DSLR phase detection AF systems I have been testing with proved troublesome.
With an ultra-high-resolution Canon EOS 5Ds R behind it, the 28 Art's inconsistent AF performance is magnified. Performance from the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II seems better, but the lower resolution of this imaging sensor probably accounts for most of the change. On the 1D X II, prefocusing to a distance beyond the subject seemed to produce improved accuracy, but the 1D X II's peripheral AF points seemed to produce reduced accuracy. It is not unusual for Sigma to release lens firmware updates addressing AF issues, so watch for such for this lens.
Focus calibration is also a key to accurate focusing with conventional DSLR phase detection AF systems and the Art lens' compatibility with the Sigma Dock (more later) ensures that this issue, should it exist, can be easily resolved. Cameras with the autofocus microadjustment feature also have the ability to adjust calibration in-camera, although the Dock does allow for more granular calibration (such as by subject distance).
When this lens' focus distances are changed significantly, expect subjects change size a moderate amount. While this focus breathing attribute is not unusual, photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques involving focus distance adjustment, videographers pulling focus and anyone very-critically framing a scene should be aware.
As usual for an Art lens, Sigma provides a focus distance window and a depth of field scale is provided, though f/8 and f/16 are the only marks included.
The 28 Art lens' manual focus ring is significant in size, measuring 1.88" (47.7mm) and easy to find. The focus ring is very smooth, has no play and has ideal resistance. Completing this lens' excellent manual focus design is the 110° of rotation that provides for ideal manual focusing precision over the entire focus distance range. This focus ring makes distance adjustments by turning in the same direction as Canon and Sony lenses, opposite that of Nikon lenses.
The Sigma 28mm f/1.4 Art Lens will win no awards for its close focusing capabilities. Wide aperture prime lenses are not often amazing in this regard, but the 11.0" (280mm) minimum focus distance results in a respectable 0.19x maximum magnification. Following is a comparison table showing minimum focus distance (MFD) and maximum magnification (MM) for a selection of at least somewhat similar lenses.
|Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.18x|
|Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens||9.1"||(230mm)||0.23x|
|Nikon 28mm f/1.4E ED AF-S Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.17x|
|Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.21x|
|Nikon 28mm f/1.8G AF-S Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.22x|
|Nikon 28mm f/1.4E ED AF-S Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.17x|
|Nikon 28mm f/1.8G AF-S Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.22x|
|Nikon 35mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens||11.8"||(300mm)||0.20x|
|Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.19x|
|Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA Lens||11.8"||(300mm)||0.18x|
|Tamron 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens||7.9"||(200mm)||0.40x|
|Zeiss 28mm f/1.4 Otus Lens||11.8"||(300mm)||0.16x|
Following is a comparison table of all the Sigma full frame prime Art lenses (as of review time).
|Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens||10.6"||(270mm)||0.10x|
|Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||10.9"||(277mm)||0.14x|
|Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.19x|
|Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.19x|
|Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||11.8"||(300mm)||0.19x|
|Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||15.7"||(400mm)||0.15x|
|Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||15.7"||(400mm)||0.18x|
|Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Lens||10.2"||(258mm)||1.00x|
|Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||33.5"||(850mm)||0.12x|
|Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||39.4"||(1000mm)||0.12x|
|Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens||34.4"||(875mm)||0.20x|
The largest orchid bloom in the minimum focus distance sample image below measures about 2.5" (6.35cm) in width.
A good option for reducing this lens' minimum focus distance is an extension tube. By positioning the lens farther away from the camera, extension tubes permit the lens to focus to a closer distance, increasing maximum magnification, though infinity and long distance focusing are sacrificed. Most are going to find a 12mm extension tube to be an OK solution for this lens, though the focus distance range is very close to the front element of the lens with image quality being decent with some peripheral softness. A 25mm extension tube is too strong for this focal length with the range of focus distances starting at extremely close and getting closer from there. Lighting subjects at these distances is very challenging.
This lens is not compatible with Sigma teleconverters, another option commonly used to increase maximum magnification.
With a strong resemblance showing throughout the line, Sigma's Global Vision series Art lenses all have a classy modern styling, visually featuring various reflectivity levels of black finish and the build quality seems great.
The 28 Art's exterior features quality Thermally Stable Composite material construction with metal used for the glossy black mount end and of course utilized liberally internally. The barrel diameter changes only slightly throughout the length of the lens aside from at the mount end where diameter growth always occurs. The focus ring feels great and a 180° section of the barrel is mold-ribbed to facilitate grip.
The AF/MF switch, like the rest of the Art lenses, has a white background indicator when in the AF position. The switch is easy to find on its raised switch bank and it is firm with a strong click into position. This lens has some weather sealing, including a rear gasket seal as seen below.
Wide aperture lenses require wide diameter lens elements and, as seen in the design illustration shared earlier in the review, this lens has a lot of densely-arranged elements. Those add up to a noticeable weight for this lens' modest size. Overall, this lens is large and heavy for its class, but it has a very comfortable size to use and I haven't minded the weight.
|Model||Weight||Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)||Filter||Year|
|Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Lens||10.9||(310)||2.9 x 2.2||(74.0 x 56.0)||58||1995|
|Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens||9.2||(260)||2.7 x 2.0||(68.4 x 51.5)||58||2012|
|Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM Lens||26.8||(760)||3.2 x 4.2||(80.4 x 105.5)||72||2015|
|Nikon 28mm f/1.4E ED AF-S Lens||22.8||(645)||3.3 x 4.0||(83.0 x 100.5)||77||2017|
|Nikon 28mm f/1.8G AF-S Lens||11.6||(330)||2.9 x 3.2||(73.0 x 80.5)||67||2012|
|Nikon 35mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens||21.2||(600)||3.3 x 3.5||(83.0 x 89.5)||67||2010|
|Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||30.5||(865)||3.3 x 4.2||(82.8 x 107.7)||77||2018|
|Sony FE 28mm f/2 Lens||7.1||(200)||2.5 x 2.4||(64.0 x 59.9)||49||2015|
|Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA Lens||22.2||(630)||3.1 x 4.4||(78.5 x 112.0)||72||2015|
|Tamron 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens||16.9||(479)||3.2 x 3.2||(80.4 x 81.3)||67||2015|
|Zeiss 28mm f/1.4 Otus Lens||49.1||(1390)||4.3 x 5.4||(108.9 x 137.0)||95||2015|
Here is a comparison table of, at review time, all Sigma full frame prime Art lenses.
|Model||Weight||Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)||Filter||Year|
|Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens||41.3||(1170)||3.8 x 5.0||(95.4 x 126)||2017|
|Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||33.5||(950)||3.6 x 5.1||(90.7 x 129.8)||2015|
|Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||23.5||(665)||3.3 x 3.6||(85.0 x 90.2)||77||2015|
|Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||30.5||(865)||3.3 x 4.2||(82.8 x 107.7)||77||2018|
|Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||23.5||(665)||3.0 x 3.7||(77.0 x 94.0)||67||2012|
|Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||42.4||(1200)||3.5 x 5.2||(87.8 x 131.0)||82||2018|
|Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||28.8||(815)||3.4 x 3.9||(85.4 x 99.9)||77||2014|
|Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Art Lens||18.2||(515)||2.8 x 4.2||(70.8 x 105.8)||49||2018|
|Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||39.9||(1130)||3.7 x 5.0||(94.7 x 126.2)||86||2016|
|Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||57.9||(1640)||4.6 x 5.2||(115.9 x 131.5)||105||2018|
|Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens||39.9||(1130)||3.6 x 4.5||(91.4 x 114.9)||82||2017|
For many more comparisons, review the complete Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.
A comparison photo can greatly help put the sizes into perspective.
Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:
The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.
Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens to other lenses (link is preloaded with a comparison).
The 77mm filter size is somewhat large but very popular and common. There is a high likelihood that other lenses with 77mm filter threads are already in your kit and that sharing will be easy. A standard thickness circular polarizer filter will increase peripheral shading very slightly, so a slim filter model such as the B+W XS-Pro or Breakthrough X4 is recommended.
Like the rest of the Sigma Art lenses, the 28 Art lens arrives with a lens hood, the Sigma LH828-01, included in the box. This hood is large in size, affording a nice amount of protection to the lens from both impact and flare-inducing light. Constructed of strong molded plastic, this hood has a slight amount of flex (good for absorbing impact) and the interior is ribbed to avoid reflections. The push-button release allows for easy installation and removal.
Sigma Art lenses come in a nicely padded, double-zippered nylon case. A shoulder strap is provided, but a belt loop is not.
Sigma's lens caps are very nice.
Sigma's Global Vision lenses get a classification of "A", "C" or "S", representing a primary Sigma-intended use of "Artistic", "Contemporary" and "Sports". A full description of these categories can be found in the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens press release.
Sigma has been introducing some very nice lenses in the Global Vision series, but I'm not a fan of the narrow categorization structure. This of course is an "Art" lens and as such, gets an "A" stamped in a classy chrome circle on the lens barrel. Don't limit the lens' use to its letter designation (unless you consider all photography to be "art").
A great feature of the Global Vision lenses is compatibility with the Sigma Dock. The dock, working in conjunction with the Sigma Optimization Pro software, allows the lens' firmware to be updated (bug fixes, compatibility updates, feature enhancements, etc.) and allows precise autofocus calibration at four distances. FTM focusing can also be disabled/controlled via the dock. Here are some screen captures showing some of the functionality.
The focus calibration values were set for illustration purposes only.
Sigma Art lenses are seldom considered "cheap", but they nearly always have great-value-prices. While the price of this lens is reaching into the mid-tier of lenses overall, its optical performance comparing to or exceeding that of lenses costing far more makes it seem like a bargain to me.
The Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens is available in Canon, Nikon, Sony E and Sigma mounts. This lens qualifies for Sigma's Mount Conversion Service in case you later change your mind. My standard disclaimer: There are potential issues with third party lenses. With the exception of the Sony E mount, Sigma reverse engineers (vs. licenses) manufacturer electronics and algorithms and there is always the potential that a DSLR body might not support a (likely older) third party lens. Usually, a lens can be made compatible by the manufacturer via a firmware update, but this cannot be guaranteed. Compatibility with the Sigma USB Dock is risk-reducing as Sigma can make dock-compatible lens firmware updates available for easy download. In regards to the Sony mount version of this lens, Sigma states "This product is developed, manufactured and sold based on the specifications of E-mount which was disclosed by Sony Corporation under the license agreement with Sony Corporation." Sigma provides a 1-year limited warranty and Sigma USA provides a limited 3-year warranty extension.
The reviewed Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens in Canon mount was online-retail sourced.
While there are many prime and zoom lenses covering the 28mm focal length, only a small number of them have an f/1.4 aperture.
One lens that matches both focal length and maximum aperture is the Zeiss 28mm f/1.4 Otus Lens, a manual-focus-only lens that sets the bar for wide angle image quality and a lens that sends fear and trepidation into the competitors. In the Sigma Art vs. Zeiss Otus image quality comparison at f/1.4, you are going to see the Sigma practically equaling the Zeiss performance. At f/2, the difference is even harder to discern.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sigma 28mm f/1.4 Art Lens vs. Zeiss 28mm f/1.4 Otus Lens comparison shows the Sigma significantly lighter and smaller. The Sigma uses much smaller filters (77mm vs. 95mm) and has a modestly higher maximum magnification (0.19x vs. 0.16x). The Zeiss is built like a tank. That the Zeiss Otus costs 3.5x as much as the Sigma Art lens makes the Sigma appear remarkable.
Nikon is the big camera manufacturer brand to feature a primary-spec-matching lens as of review time, the Nikon 28mm f/1.4E ED AF-S Lens. While the Nikon awaits testing on an ultra-high-resolution camera, the current image quality comparison shows the Sigma easily discernable as the sharper lens. The Nikon has modestly less vignetting, more geometric distortion and harsher flare response.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sigma 28mm f/1.4 Art Lens vs. Nikon 28mm f/1.4E Lens comparison shows the Nikon lens being considerably smaller and lighter. I expect the Nikon lens to autofocus consistently more accurately than the Sigma on a DSLR. The Nikon is considerably more expensive.
If a modestly wider or longer focal length will work for your application, a plethora of lenses become available for comparison and I'll pick two of this lens' siblings. I'll go wider first with the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens. In the image quality comparison at f/1.4, I like the 28mm results better. By f/2, the 24mm lens' center-of-the-frame results are catching up to the 28mm's results, but the 28mm remains the slightly better option in the periphery. By f/4, the two lenses are essentially equivalents. The 24 has modestly less peripheral shading.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sigma 24mm vs. 28mm f/1.4 Art Lens comparison shows the 24 as the smaller, lighter lens. Otherwise, these lenses are more similar than different in this comparison. Not similar is the price – the 24 is significantly less expensive.
The next-wider Sigma full frame prime Art lens is the 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens. In the image quality comparison, we see that Sigma has very significantly improved upon the original Art prime lens. The 35 has slightly less linear distortion.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sigma 28mm vs. 35mm f/1.4 Art Lens comparison shows the 35 the considerably smaller and lighter lens. The 35 uses smaller filters (67mm vs. 77mm). As with the last Art lens comparison, the specs show these lenses to be otherwise more similar than different. The 35 is considerably less expensive.
Not so long ago, I would have said that 2-stops of aperture would have to be given up to get into a zoom lens covering the 28mm focal length, but the recently-prior-introduced Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens gives up only 1 stop and the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art Lens also covers 28mm with an f/2 aperture. Zoom lenses provide great versatility, but they are not completely advantaged over the primes. Use the site's comparison tools to make your evaluations.
After writing nearly a dozen Sigma prime Art lens reviews, it becomes increasingly difficult to write a creatively-different summary as these lenses share so many similarities.
All of these lenses are beautifully-designed, solidly built, and a pleasure to use. They are not typically the smallest or lightest in their class and cost-cutting is not a high priority for the Art series. Delivering a good value remains a priority and cutting-edge image quality obviously remains paramount.
The most notable differentiator among the Art series prime lenses is the focal length. When 24mm is too wide and 35mm too long, the Sigma 28mm f/1.4 Art Lens is the right answer. With its superior image quality, the 28mm option will often be the best choice over the other two and over the competitor brands as well. This focal length avails general purpose use and the ultra-wide f/1.4 aperture, unsurpassed by any 28mm DSLR or MILC lens currently produced, extends that use to seemingly any light conditions while providing the strongest 28mm background blur possible.
This lens' biggest downside, as I experienced, is DSLR AF accuracy inconsistency (sensor-based AF systems should completely side-step this problem). A firmware update from Sigma could dramatically reduce this issue making this lens a nearly-perfect 28mm option.
If 28mm works for your application, the Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens deserves a position at the top of your shortlist.
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